Short-term and temporary may both refer to brief or non-permanent situations but I think they each have a different impact on our mindset. If a situation is labeled as temporary, the focus becomes on the ending — “this is just for now and soon it will be over.” Contrast that with something that is short-term where there is more of an acceptance that “this is how it is for now.” It may end, but there is a focus on the present.

Clarifying the distinction can help with realistic planning and the setting of expectations. If we treat something as temporary that lingers into a short-term and even longer circumstance we incur mental fatigue as our goal post keeps moving into the future. If a situation has an unknown ending such as helping someone through recovery, facing budget restrictions, or an extensive road project, it may help to acknowledge that this current state is the reality and adjust your thinking accordingly as if it were a permanent condition.

Language shapes thinking and mindset shapes actions. Don’t make a difficult situation harder by how you frame it.

Lane closure on a busy road due to maintenante, signs detour traffic temporary street work orange lighted arrow, barrels and cones.

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